Am I in Denial?

My previous post on trauma was written in the way I usually write; by simply allowing my fingers to do their thing on the keyboard without censorship. At the time I felt ok about what had come out, like I had some kind of resolution and a ‘next step’ to take. Well, I took that next step last week – I went to see my psychologist. I feel … I don’t know, really.

We talked about things for a bit, I caught her up with what’s been happening in my life and then she tells me what she thought of my post on trauma. Great insight, until she got to the dot points. Then it was “you don’t want to own your trauma”. At that point I looked at her with puzzlement. How could a series of dot points mean I don’t want to own it? I thought I was doing a quick summary so I could use the list as a reminder to speak with her about it.

And then her explanation hit a nerve. Big time. I find it so easy to support other people through their stuff, to help them confront the tough, traumatic things in their lives. I ask the tough questions and it gets emotional and messy and uncomfortable and scary. And I don’t want that. I don’t want to go there for myself. It hurts. The thing is, I don’t have to do anything with my trauma. I don’t have to respond in a certain way. I can allow it to be there, to sit with me, to accept that it’s mine. To accept that is a part of my past. That it’s there and it’s not going anywhere. I keep asking the question about how I can do things like that. How can I deal with this, how can I deal with that? The question is, how can one do anything with something like this kind of trauma? Trauma that has been an insidious part of your life for a long time and has not been acknowledged until recently. Trauma that has put a load of stress on your system that you have essentially ignored for 30+ years. What can you do, really?

I think one of my main issues has been allowing my emotions to sit with me. I’ve always hidden them, turned away from them and avoided them. It’s become a long time coping mechanism to hide from them so much that I don’t realise they are there. I’ve been working on being more aware of them, allowing them to surface naturally. And not being afraid of them.

It’s certainly a process! One that I don’t have a clue how to do. And that is upsetting. I guess a big part of everything I have worked on in the last 2 years has been to deal with and recognise emotions I never have before. And I have come to this point, where I can recognise that there are issues.

I am unsure what to do. The prospect of “owning” that trauma fills me with anxiety. There is so much of it sitting there and I truly don’t want it. If I take it I worry that it will totally swamp me. If I were working with someone else I’d encourage them to do it slowly and to take small steps. My mind is going a little nuts with it.

Nothing new there!

*Breathe*

 trauma

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You’re Gonna Like the Way You Look (I Guarantee It)

You’re Gonna Like the Way You Look (I Guarantee It).

People need to read this. Hear this. And LIVE this! Every single one of us. Xx

Judging Transformation

A few months ago I responded to a post about how people judge their transformation process by saying that I had a bit to say about it and that I would get back to it after I finished my uni assessments for the semester. I never ended up getting back to it and had a gentle nudge to do so today. So here I am.

So many people judge their transformation by the numbers on the scales. SO many people. The entire “weight loss” industry is flooded with programs that focus on reducing numbers. And when the programs don’t work, people are led to feel inadequate and unworthy because they couldn’t make it happen. The whys and hows of this is a whole other blog post that deserves more attention than I am willing to give it, so I am not going to focus on this. Instead, I want to share how it has been for me.

find self at end of journey

I began my “journey” near the end of 2004 following surgery to reduce the size of my stomach. At that time I was in a place where I didn’t believe in myself. In any way. I felt worthless, useless and unlovable. And I ate those emotions every day, to the point where I didn’t even know some of them existed. I was depressed, sad, angry, confused, lost. Plus a whole host of other things. And I never allowed myself to even acknowledge those feelings were there.

The surgery allowed me to start the process of rebuilding myself. From the inside out. In the 18 months afterward I worked very hard on my fitness, attending gym sessions 4-5 days per week. At the peak I was there for 3 hours; 20 minutes treadmill, 20 minutes x-trainer, upper body weight routine, followed by an aqua class. I then spent some time in the spa before having a shower and going home. One time I remember spending a full hour on the x-trainer before doing my weight routine and then an aqua class. In that time I dropped 60kg.

After 18 months I moved states to be closer to family and a couple of months later got full-time work. At this point my gym routine fell over. I was really tired all the time, doing work that was challenging and stressful and I didn’t have the energy to keep going. I was told several times that I “should” get back into it and I felt the pressure. But I didn’t. 6 yrs went by and I regained 20 of those kg.

Fast forward to 2012 and I began the 12WBT program. In 3 rounds (9 months) I dropped 30kg, taking me back under the amount I had previously dropped. At that point things somewhat fell over again. I got sick (headspins) and spent 3 months trying to figure out what was going on. My doctor ended up telling me I had Meniere’s Syndrome, which is basically fluid between the ears that impacts balance. I had to stop my training.

My focus has changed since then. Rather than focusing on the numbers I am focusing on self-care and self-love. Nurturing myself, listening to my body, mind and spirit and giving them what they need to function optimally. It’s a very different way of being that takes a lot of getting used to. In the time I have been doing this the scales have said that I have regained 10kg.

I don’t care. Well, a part of me does. At one point I got seriously frustrated with the scales not moving. My head got really messy with it all and for my own sanity I had to ditch the scales. I’ve pulled them out of the cupboard several times since then and each time I step on them I get a pang of frustration that they aren’t shifting. Then my brain reminds me that the fluid my body holds onto with my lymphedoema does some crazy stuff and sometimes the numbers get messed up because of it. And then I remind myself that my nutrition intake isn’t always the best and I need to “fix” it. And then I get frustrated with myself cause “no matter what I try nothing works” *rolls eyes at myself*. And so it goes in circles. Around and around and around. Nothing is ever good enough (story of my life). When will it ever end??

*sigh* relax

So I have put the scales away again. Because I know that I am so much more than the numbers. They can never define me. Ever.

The numbers haven’t shifted in any desirable direction for about a year. But when I look at other things there have been huge shifts. I described earlier my feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. I now have complete certainty that I am enough. Just the way I am. Right here, right now.

The way I think about myself is completely different. Professionally I have gained a heap of knowledge about the human mind and how we respond to stress and this has given me a new awareness and insight into the way I cope with things. I have taken action to deal with those things and while the process is ongoing as I continue to learn more, where I am now is worlds apart from where I was even 12 months ago. After so long spending my life eating and numbing my emotions, I am now able to acknowledge and recognise them. I allow myself to feel them. I acknowledge my right to feel them. I am learning to deal with them without resorting to food.

I am learning to speak up for myself and voice my truth. I am learning (and coming to terms with) the fact that my future is full of possibilities. I am learning to listen to myself. To trust that my inner voice is right (for me) and is worth listening to. This process has led to a more natural way of eating. I have found recently that I am naturally eating the less processed, healthier foods. And my training has transformed as well. It’s no longer about fitness. It is now about listening to my mind and body and giving it what it needs. I’m working on being able to walk away from each training session with a feeling of peace, calm and strength. Using it to nurture and care for myself in the way I deserve. With love. Increased fitness is just an awesome side effect.

THAT transformation is worth so much more than the numbers on the scales. Every step I have taken has led me to this place, right here and now.

And right here and now is where I want to be, because where I am heading is full of lights so bright I am going to need sunnies. 🙂

authentic beauty

If I had a guy …

If I had a guy to be by my side I would want him to love me for who I am, regardless of what I look like. I would want him to support and encourage me to spread my wings and fly. To share my gifts and talents with the world. To hold me up when I feel like I am falling.

authentic beauty

He might tell me something like this …

“I love every bump and curve on your body because it has helped make you who you are today. And I love who you are. You are beautiful in every way possible. Your eyes, your hair, your nose, your arms, your fingers and toes, your hips, your back and stomach. Every single part of you is beautiful. It has character. It has a story. A story of hardship and pain and strength and overcoming abuse. A story of joy and dreams and fulfillment and courage.

Your hair is soft and shiny, just like your personality. Your eyes show me expressions of the pain, hurt, sadness and vulnerability you have experienced at different times in your life. Every time you look into my eyes you show me your depth of character. You tell me your story.

The edge of your jaw and your mouth show me how compassionate and articulate you are. The curves of your shoulders have carried the load of other people’s worries and troubles for many years. Your chest holds your heart. A heart that loves and cares deeply for others. A heart that is full of compassion and empathy.

The band of fat around your stomach has protected you from all the attacks you have received through your life. The hurt and impact of the bullies that teased you when you were at school. The shame you felt at not being good enough to belong. Your stretch marks show me the courage it has taken for you to endure the words from all the people who told you that you would only be beautiful if you lost weight.

I love the cellulite and dimples all over your legs and hips because they show me how strong you are. You have stood up in spite of everyone who tried to bring you down. Those legs have carried the weight of so much pain and suffering. And they are all the stronger for it. STAND UP!

I love the pocket of fluid in your belly and the swelling of lymphoedema in your legs because they have withstood the attacks from all the people who have tried to crush your spirit. Those legs hold your spirit safe and will allow it to flourish and fly when the time is right.

I love your brain. It holds all the memories of your past. All the hurt and shame and pain. All the courage, determination and certainty. All be strong be fiercethe knowledge and skills so you can live your dream and make the world a better place. The power. The love. The thoughts and feelings. The wit, humour and intelligence. The values and reason and justice. The passion, loyalty and sensuality.

I love the length of your slender fingers and the fragility of your wrists. They tenderly hold and comfort the people who are experiencing their own pain and sorrow.

You have so much depth. So much strength and skill. I love that you have taken your past and made it a story of triumph, learning, fulfillment and happiness. And that you continue to do the work that will make your life even richer”.

I don’t have a guy to say this to me, so I am choosing to say it to myself.

I love you Ali, for all these reasons and more. I love you simply because you are on this earth.

beautiful right now

Self-Love

I was reading a blog entry today from someone who has recently begun following my blog and had a lightbulb go off in my head right in the middle.

“So THAT’S why I’ve never felt like I’ve loved anyone” is the message my brain gave me.

The blog I was reading is by a lady named Sindhu. She came by to visit after reading a comment I had made on another blog. So, of course I had to have a poke around her site to see what she writes about. The first entry I read is about self-love and how, no matter what happened in her life and the differences between her and other people, she has always had this inner capacity for a healthy dose of self-love. This has enabled her to be resilient, self-sufficient and to have an endless supply of love for the friends and family members in her life.

Here is where the light bulb hit me. I have written before about how I ate my emotions. I avoided my feelings. Every single one of them. Hate, love, anger, confusion, frustration, joy, gladness. I could continue writing a huge list here but I am sure you get the idea. No matter the emotion, it either didn’t register on my gauge, or barely made the mercury rise above zero. They were all there, but all buried so deeply below the surface they were like an iceberg. 10% above the water and 90% below, hidden from view. Hidden from recognition. And hidden from the knowledge that I was entitled to experience them. iceberg

The thing is, my feelings FOR other people were exactly the same as they were for me. Iceberg-like.

I was 18 the first time I acknowledged to myself that I had FUN on a night out (a friend’s 19th birthday party). People would hug me and tell me they loved me, and I would say the words back to them, but I wouldn’t feel them within. While other teenagers were fawning over the boys in school or the celebrity superstar, putting posters up, writing love messages all over their school folders and pencil cases, I kept my distance, kept to myself, and found it really difficult to understand how they could feel that way.

It did occur to me sometime in my mid 30’s to wonder why I seemed so different to everyone around me, but I never got much of an answer. It was kind of like I was separate from myself.

You see, I always knew, from a very young age, that I was unworthy. That I did not deserve to be loved. That I didn’t deserve to have friends. At least any real ones. Two of the three friends I did have during school were always fighting amongst themselves and I was the one who kept the peace. I listened. I guess it was like I had my role in the group but didn’t really belong. I would visit their houses and see the evidence of their boy/celebrity crushes and I never had that. I was separate. 30 years on, I’m not sure what they would say about that time and how they saw me.

So, this blog I read today and the light bulb it generated…

light bulb

I realised that the reason I was never really able to feel the emotions that other people felt, FOR other people, is because I was never able to feel them for ME. I was never allowed to feel them. So I didn’t. I numbed them. And buried them so deep inside that trying to get them out has taken a lot of soul searching. A lot of time and effort. A lot of wondering whether I am normal.

So much makes sense now.

Stop the pattern of eating my emotions. Recognise their existence. Use the strategies I’ve learned to manage the thoughts. Love myself. Nurture myself.

Simple, right!?

I’ll let you know when the tears stop flowing.

letting go of old thought patterns

Stand Fight Fit

I have been feeling quite overwhelmed with all the stuff I do at work and uni and I have been feeling like I never get time to myself. And yet whenever I am not at work or uni I am at home by myself. This includes most weekends and every evening. Doesn’t quite make sense, does it? focus on your heart

On Saturday morning I went to a Stand Fight Fit workshop with Emazon. I set my intention for the workshop; “focus”. I wanted to come away feeling like I was focused and could concentrate on the stuff I needed to do. Like assessment pieces for my degree. To let go of work stuff, leave it at the front door and then focus on what I need to do at home. Instead of what I have been doing; sitting in my recliner watching mindless television while I eat everything in sight. Well, maybe not everything. But close to it. And then I wonder why my mind is racing at night and I can’t get to sleep for hours …

I finished Saturday’s session feeling centred and calm. And the short talk Emma gave afterward was particularly pertinent for me. The more I push my body and ask more of it, the more stress I add to it. The more I stress it out, the more it craves carbs and sugar. And the more it craves, the harder it is for me to deny those cravings and the more I end up eating. Emma did a youtube clip on something similar to this a few months ago. Very interesting stuff and it makes perfect sense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiuSTG8g-f8 

So, rather than ask more of my body by spending extra time “trying” to do extra stuff, what I really need to do is create some rituals and give it what it really needs; time to replenish, repair and heal from the stress it has been under for so many years. My kiniesiologist told me a while ago that my adrenals were stressed. I wonder why!!

I need to add to my goals list to include:

  1. Create an evening ritual of quiet time with a cup of tea and meditation.
  2. Spend some training time with the air element, morning and evening. Breathing, meditation, yoga-type movements.
  3. Allow myself to take what I need every day.
  4. Be in bed by 9:30pm to breathe before sleep.
  5. Spend some time in the Japanese Gardens on the weekend, simply sitting, walking and breathing the serenity.

relax

Free Fall

“It’s when you stop looking that you see things that are in plain sight”.

I was watching “Neighbours” tonight (of all things) and one of the characters said these words. They struck a chord with me.

I’m not really sure why at this point, I just know that it has. And it’s related to my previous post on rituals and letting go.

I talk a lot about trusting myself, and yet I never seem to get to the point when I push myself to the edge and I need to trust. To where trust is the only option. I always head back to old habits. I get right to the edge of the precipice and never take the step into free fall.

What exactly am I looking for here? Whatever it is, it seems so elusive. Like it’s just out of reach and no matter how much I fumble around for it with the tips of my fingers, I can never grab hold of it.

I wrote a letter last weekend, addressed to all the teenagers out there who used to feel the way I felt at their age. You can find it here if you’d like to read it. The entire time I was writing and proofreading it I was calm and composed. I had doubts about how it would be received and whether people would get some value out of it, so I asked a friend to proof it before I posted it. Her response was that it was powerful and she wished someone had said those things to her as a teen.

I read it once more before posting it and this time, to see how it sounded, I read it aloud to myself. And of course, I immediately started bawling. It really hit me. I posted that letter on my other blog 3 days ago. Tonight I was talking to another friend about it and I realised that I actually wrote it to myself. The teenage self that was never told she mattered. The teenage self who needed and desperately craved love and acceptance. I wrote it so that she could feel like she had a place in the world. Because, as much as I know it as an adult, the teenager I was never understood it. And she needs to. I need her to. I need her to truly take those words on board and allow them to sit comfortably.

I need it so that I can feel ok about letting go and taking that step over the edge.

Free Fall.

free fall penguin

 

5 signs you’re on the hero’s journey.

5 signs you’re on the hero’s journey..

I came across this article today and wanted to keep it. It speaks to me. Enjoy 🙂

It talks about your greater mind providing the signs you need to listen to so that you can live the life you’re destined for. It’s very well written, uses a lot of metaphors, and while sometimes the language is a little “lyrical”, the message is clear. No matter how much you fight it, your greater mind will always lead you to the life you are meant to life. Even if it hurts like hell to travel the abyss to get there.

So, we may as well learn to let go and listen, right? 🙂

Rituals to let go

Mum. Grief.

Two words that will forever be associated in my head.

excuses kill dreams kill excuses instead

On Thursday I did something I’ve needed to do for a while (and didn’t know I needed it). I had tears flowing on and off most of the evening.

My mum died in October 2002. Since then I think a part of me has known that I haven’t grieved for her in the way I need to. Instead I have coped the way I always have with tough stuff. By avoiding, by burying. The pain. The hurt. The sadness. Usually with food. Mostly unhealthy food.

I would sit for hours numbing myself, watching mindless T.V. while eating. Chips, twisties and chocolate have always been my fall back options. But anything would do.

Every diet ever invented provides a plan that restricts or even eliminates specific foods. When I started the 12WBT it was no exception. I have always turned to food to avoid or numb my emotions to the point where I wouldn’t even know they were there most of the time. “I never get angry”. Yeah, right. Only because it was hidden under all the food, buried deep down inside. So not having my fall back foods on the 12wbt plan ….

It’s been extremely challenging for me. To find alternative strategies has proven difficult. To even become AWARE of my emotions has been an issue. An enlightening and educative process. I feel like I am a lot more aware of when I am feeling emotions. I now acknowledge and recognise my anger. Yay, me!

More difficult has been the strategies. Or at least implementing them. Every time I try, I end up self-sabotaging. I go back to old habits and ways of coping. Namely, eating. My standby addiction. My excuses come out to play, in a big way.

It’s difficult to admit it’s an addiction. I know it is, but I don’t want to say it out loud. But that’s a whole other blog post …

let go of the past
Last week I was talking to a close friend and colleague of mine about rituals. She said she saw me in front of a big orange fire, creating a ritual whereby I was able to let go of stuff that’s been holding me back. Thursday and Friday (yesterday) I went to an annual work retreat where we get together for 2 days for professional development and some down time. My friend, after talking with me last week, organised a bonfire for Thursday night. Especially so I could do my ritual. I am so, so BLESSED!

I spent some time writing before dinner on Thursday, following a full day of professional development on grief and bereavement. Kind of fitting that my mum was right there. I allowed my hand to move the pen however it wanted and I wrote a letter to my excuses. I told them how they have helped me over the years. How they have protected me and kept me safe. How they have allowed me to survive. And about how they are now keeping me further away from where I am destined to be. My big, vast and promising future. I sent them all the love and care in what they have done for me in the time they have been my companions and then told them it was time I set them free. I thanked them and then let them go.

I cried most of the way through writing that one page letter. The words flowed very easily and it took about 5 minutes. I sat quietly for a while, did some breathing and mindfulness practice before rejoining the group. After dinner I went down to the bonfire with my friend and after everyone else went to bed we talked for a bit. She asked me, who was the one person, alive or dead, who I would call upon for support when I needed it?

Mum.

We talked about her. Her personality, her smell, what she did for me. The differences between her and dad. The biggest thing about my mum is the way she nurtured me. Something I have never really done for myself.

We talked about how I could call on her for support and nurturing whenever I needed her. I was in a flood of tears almost the entire time we were talking. My mum was with me by that fire. Watching. Waiting. Loving, nurturing, protecting.

letting go and shining bright

And then I threw the letter in the fire and watched it burn. Slowly, from the edge, across the paper from one side to the other. I watched those excuses disappear out of my life, little bit by little bit, knowing that I am STRONG, DETERMINED, COURAGEOUS. Knowing that whenever I need her, my mum will be there to support, encourage and nurture me. Knowing that I can do those things for myself.

All I need to do is trust. Myself, my gut, my mum.

After I got back to my room I felt quite wrung out. Drained. Tired. And somewhat cleansed.

Tomorrow is a new day.

I’ve got this.

I am looking forward to the rest of my life.

STRENGTH. DETERMINATION. COURAGE.

ME.

letting go for freedom